Online Bible Commentary
2 Timothy 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra--what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy, who is helping at the church in Ephesus. False Teaching has infiltrated the church and this letter is the second Paul has sent, in an effort to remedy the situation.
Paul is writing from prison in Rome, with Luke being his amanuensis, or scribe. This letter is being written about AD late 65-early 66.
In the previous passage, Paul has described the ungodliness of the false teachers. In this passage, he contrasts himself with the false teachers by reminding Timothy of Paul’s godliness. He is reminding Timothy of his past in order to strengthen Timothy for the task ahead, in his future.
Paul lists five godly virtues to which Paul has remained loyal. These godly virtues are in contrast to the ungodly vices of the false teachers listed in the previous passage.
These five virtues are doctrine, conduct, purpose, cardinal virtues, and suffering. His goal is for Timothy to remain loyal to Paul’s teachings long after Paul is gone from this earth.
Paul begins this passage by writing “But you have carefully followed my doctrine” (v. 10a). First, Paul reminds Timothy of his doctrine. He is reminding Timothy to stay true to his teachings, the Christian doctrine, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not be deceived by the false teachers.
Paul’s second godly virtue is “manner of life” (v. 10b), or conduct. Paul’s testimony is made powerful by the fact that he, himself, lived the Gospel.
He reminded Timothy of his conduct, which served as an example of one who lived according to Christian doctrine. His godly conduct was, again, in stark contrast to the conduct of the false teachers, described in the previous passage.
Paul continues this verse with the word “purpose” (v. 10c). This is his third godly virtue, his total commitment to Jesus Christ.
He ends this verse with “faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance” (v. 10d). Paul’s fourth godly virtue is that he has lived his life according to the cardinal Christian virtues of faith, patience, love, and endurance.
The fifth, and final, godly virtue listed here by Paul is that of “persecutions, afflictions” (v. 11a). Paul reminds Timothy that he has endured sufferings. He has been persecuted for his faith.
Next, he writes “which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra” (v. 11b). Paul recalls three of his persecutions that occurred near Timothy’s home: in Antioch (Acts 13:50), where he was persecuted and expelled; in Iconium (Acts 14:2-6), where he had to flee to escape stoning; and in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20), where he was stoned, almost to the point of death.
He continues with “what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me” (v. 11c). Although Paul was persecuted, God preserved his life.
It is the character of God not to save us from suffering, but to walk us through our suffering. He is with us all the time, strengthening us, just as He did Paul.
Next, Paul writes “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (v. 12). Anyone who chooses to live a godly life will be persecuted.
This is because of evil in the world. The evil, sin, in people’s lives causes them to not want to hear a message on sin. It hits too close to home.
Many churches fail to teach on sin for this very reason. They are only teaching part of the Gospel.
They seek only to tickle the ears of their congregants, not to strengthen them in their faith. So, when someone brings a message on sin, he is open to persecution, even from other Christians.
Paul concludes this passage by writing “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (v. 13). False teachers, described as “evil men” and “imposters”, will go from bad to worse and will keep deceiving just as they are deceived.
Sin is progressive. Where it is allowed to exist, it grows like cancer.
That is the state of our country today. Our churches have failed us.
They have been afraid to teach on sin for so long now that sin, in the form of homosexuality, is actually embraced by false teachers in some churches. This is what Paul means to go from bad to worse.
As we continue down this road things will get progressively worse until our churches become like the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14). The Lord will “spit out” the church, and the rapture of the few remaining faithful Christians will occur.
Paul lived a life of godly virtues. He called Timothy, and all Christians, to follow his example, to live out these five godly virtues.
Therefore, we are called to follow the doctrine, the teachings, of the Bible. We are called to be Christlike, to conduct ourselves as Jesus would. We are called to have as our purpose to be totally committed to Jesus Christ. We are called to exhibit the cardinal virtues of faith, patience, love, and endurance. And we are called to suffer for Christ, just as He did for us.
That is the life of a Christian. It is not always an easy life, but you can’t beat the rewards at the end.